Imagine the director/photographer of this scene telling all of the actors to take their places, then saying, "Now, look into the camera; imagine that a _______ kind-of-person just walked in."
I don't know if this version of this picture is big enough to get the feel. If it's not, click here.
Now for a moment look past the obvious intentionally-staged look of the background. Fill in the blank quoted above the picture. In the blank, I would say something like "serious," maybe, or "well-dressed stranger with dark eyebrows." Can I be that? Can I imagine myself in the place of the camera lens? Certainly the people in this picture would not look at the normal/actual me in this way -- the me who's wearing scrubs and no t-shirt and hasn't shaved in three days. So who would I have to be to get that look from those people? My theory is that an author can create this kind of gaze at the reader, but that the reader has to be imaginatively-worthy of meeting the gaze to make the magic happen. And please don't take that worthiness for granted. I know for sure that there are certain gazes that I'm not able or qualified to meet.
This kind of imaginative scene-entry is what I mean to describe when I talk about experiential reading. Maybe I'll figure out a way to "theorize" this in an interesting way some day.